Art Down Under: The Story Behind Artillery Underwear
Underwear as art?
On the surface it sounds insane, a concept some friends might invent while out drinking on a random night. Yet the line between genius and lunacy is a very fine one, and sometimes those silly ideas end up producing a lot of firepower.
"I’ve been to some wild parties coming from South America, but I’ve found no one parties harder than gay guys, and one night while we were riling up my gay friend Alan for his truly terrible undies," says Milena Covelli. "Alan commented if he could design his own underwear that wasn’t so typical, he would. It didn’t take all that red wine to realize that wasn’t such a bad idea." And with that, Covelli gathered a team and created Artillery4men, an innovative new line of high-quality briefs emblazoned with limited-edition prints from interesting and innovative artists worldwide. From flirty and fun to sexy and saucy, the garments have been selling well to men of all orientations. Covelli took a minute to chat with us from her office in Australia about the line and why she thinks guys are interested in cool fashions covering their personal artillery.
Why did you launch this line?
The idea just evolved. We wanted to give different artists the chance to show off their designs and we get some awesome looking undies. We were discussing the idea amid warm bottles of sake and tempura at the local sushi restaurant and one of our friends told us that he once found another dude wearing the same ‘super expensive’ undies that he was wearing. From that seemed like a pretty good idea to produce only limited sets of underwear. We realized this would be a win-win idea we could push further. After all, working around a bunch of hotties in underwear and living in a world of consistent inspiration just sounded like the ideal job for me!
Who created the first designs?
We asked a wide range of people to submit designs for the first series. Surprisingly, a lot of artists were captivated with the idea of decorating Artilleries but we had to select only the best 6, based on peoples’ choice. At the end we got artists from New York, London, Berlin, Australia and Colombia. That’s the thing with Artillery—you will be always surprised by unexpected talents from all around the world; we included all the stories of them and the meaning behind their art work on Artillery’s website.
What was the initial response?
Because it was a fun idea to begin with, it took some time before we realized it could really work and there was a market out there for our stuff. So after almost a year of toiling with the idea, we decided to go for it and launched early this year. The response has been mind-blowing. Once we had our site set up, we saw that people were really finding value in all this craziness and I feel very grateful that men have liked so much what we’re doing. I don’t know how common it is that customers contact you just to tell you how happy they are with your products, but I just love it! As the brand has been building momentum, it’s been getting better and better. The last few months have been absolutely insane; too much fun!
Are they truly limited edition, or do you keep the popular looks around and rotate out the less popular ones?
Definitely limited edition. We need to rotate the designs out, because it gives opportunity for other artists to showcase their designs. We also want to be a niche brand, so producing too many of the same design doesn’t quite fit with the philosophy. We think a good compromise is to allow artists to submit more than one design, so if you liked a previous design by an artist you may find another in a following series to be just as good, or better than the previous.
How often do you introduce new designs?
As the series runs out. We order a set amount of each design and faze them out if they are not selling, or produce new designs as old ones sell out. As such, we do not have a set time, but introduce new designs according to availability according to our limited edition philosophy.
What do you look for from the artists submitting designs?
We are looking for spunky, sexy, original, crazy designs. At first, we look if the design is printable; it should have no more than 6 colors and we only work with solid colors. In terms of which designs are chosen, we simply ask people. We will also use social media so followers and fans can also tell us which they want made. We want it to be open, where guys dictate what’s made, rather than [how] the big brands [operate].
What's your overall philosophy toward the brand?
Artillery is pure art and fashion blended together; each design is created by a different artist, so when you buy a new pair you are taking part of that mystery behind their art work with you. It’s a brand that you only will be ready to wear when your imagination gets bored of being stuck.
Like the bum cheeks on which men sit, the design space on the undies is supposed to be an opportunity to show off, to have fun, and to be damn hot, without the risk of finding your clone wearing the same exclusive pair that you got. This is exceptional Artillery that almost no one else will ever have.
On top of that, the feel of the garments is really first class; all Artillery’s are made with luxury Peruvian Pima cotton which is one of the world’s finest cottons. We know that guys willing to cover with underwear this amazing must value what they got underneath. And so do we.